Model S interior design

Model S interior design

Hi everyone
I went today so excited with intensions to buy a model S but I was very disappointed with the interior design. I figured if I am paying at least 85K for a car, I would get a luxury sedan but the quality of leather as well as interior design was far from luxury. Unfortunately there is not much options for upgrade for the interior.
Do you agree, or have you found a solution (like aftermarket upgrades)?

KOL2000 | 21. Juni 2013

strongly disagree. Its on par with my friend's Audi R8, my M3, and better than a friend's mercedes.

NKYTA | 21. Juni 2013

I disagree. I love the minimalist interior and smooth lines. My leather is quite luxurious IMO. The design of the B pillar and extra wear on the leather was an oversight as pointed out in many previous posts, but Tesla says they are working on a fix.

cerjor | 21. Juni 2013

Having followed this forum for a couple of years, I will say there are some people that agree with you and some that don't. Many say they like the simplicity and quality of the inside. Others feel those are shortcomings. I suspect this it true with any car (or house, or hotel, etc.) That's why we have both Audis and BMWs, Hiltons and Hyatts and the like.

AmpedRealtor | 21. Juni 2013

With the Model S, you are paying a premium for a paradigm shift. You are paying for the R&D costs to develop an all electric mass market vehicle. You are paying a premium for a large battery pack. Also built-in to the price is the "free forever" use of the superchargers. So really, this isn't comparable to a $100,000 ICE vehicle where none of these other costs are built into the price. Once you remove or adjust these costs to compare with an ICE vehicle, I don't know what the final "adjusted" number would be, but I would guess in the $40,000-$60,000 range.

I wouldn't expect the Model S interior to hold up especially well when compared to similarly priced cars from BMW, Mercedes, etc. They've been around making vehicle interiors a lot longer than Tesla. Remember, you are also paying a premium to be on the bleeding edge of automobile technology and to be a total badass. It's difficult to put a price tag on that.

Carefree | 21. Juni 2013

I don't want a living room to drive in:-) I love the Tesla interior for its simplicity. But don't make a mistake - it is high quality!

david | 21. Juni 2013

I would say that I partially disagree. There are small details in the interior that are of lower quality than expected in an $80k car: the floor mats are horrible (but easily upgraded); the center console area is poorly thought out and constructed; the seats lack support. But in other areas the interior quality is comparable to other luxury cars I have owned (Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Porsche). The obeche wood is delicious. The leather is very nice, especially on the dash (at least it's real leather, unlike some of the faux-leather dashes out there). The cleanliness and simplicity of the design is very refreshing.

I traded a $110k Audi S8 when I bought my Model S. Initially I missed the old-world coziness of the Audi, which had far superior seats, stereo, and very nice leather/wood design. However, the Model S feels so simple, and so open and spacious and airy -- I came to realize that it is not going for a "old world cozy" feel, but rather, a modern, clean, polished feel.

To me, it's the difference between staying at the Aria or the Venetian (Las Vegas). They are both very nice, they just use two very different approaches to "luxury."

AmpedRealtor | 21. Juni 2013

@ david, I feel really silly asking this basic question... since Teslas are purchased directly from Tesla, how would someone go about trading-in an existing vehicle if there are no dealerships? I am in Arizona, would love to explore the trade-in option for my Prius if it saves me the headache of trying to sell it.

AmpedRealtor | 21. Juni 2013

@ david, I've only stayed at Treasure Island so for me, the Model S interior is quite exquisite! :)

PaceyWhitter | 21. Juni 2013


In some markets Tesla has partnered with AutoNation for trade-ins.

jens.guthe | 21. Juni 2013

Tag- on question to one of the respondents to the initial question: 1) do you have a weblink for the floormat upgrade and 2) Same for any nice center console upgrade ideas. Can smell my late Sep delivery, so starting to want to do stuff.. Thanx.

cloroxbb | 21. Juni 2013


2., communicate with BorisT,

Carefree | 21. Juni 2013

AmpedRealtor - take your Prius to CarMax. That's what we did with ours - very pleasant and easy transaction. They gave us a very fair price.

KendallPB | 21. Juni 2013

I like the interior fine. Different strokes for different folks. (shrug)

GLO | 21. Juni 2013

Love the interior compared to our Mercedes that we sold for it! To me they don't compare.

DTsea | 21. Juni 2013

I love mine.

Vic M | 21. Juni 2013

I can see your point that the leather may be softer in a Benz, but compared to the computer in the Model S, all other cars are in the stone age. The display will eventually dominate your experience, and like other features of the model S, makes the interior way beyond anything else out there.

RedShift | 21. Juni 2013

I used to complain about the interior. After living with it for 3 months, I have to say, it is minimalist, modernist luxury. Call me a fanboy or whatever, couldn't give a damn. It's really nice, simple and elegant.

irishstoutaz | 22. Juni 2013

@AmpedRealtor... not sure where you are in the valley but taking your car to CarMax is a painless experience though there are only two in the valley. We have sold two vehicles to them and received far more than 'trade-in' value and were even in the normal private sale range. They give you a quote that is good for 7 days and only takes about 30 minutes to get the quote and another 30 if you decide to sell it. It was worth our drive from Cave Creek to the location on the 202 in Gilbert.

Feel free to send me any questions as we just recently went through the whole buying experience (including loan from Alliant) and can let you know what to expect. It is a little different for AZ people vs. what you see other people experiencing.

tobi_ger | 22. Juni 2013

May I kindly ask owners about the seats? I've been driving 10+ years 5 series BMW (535d, Alpina D10, 530d...) for business and their seats were comfortable to drive for 4-5 hours a trip without backpain.
I haven't yet had a test drive (read/watched plenty about MS) and am excited for all the technology, innovation and driving experience.
I'd just to hear some comparisons, please.
Thanks a lot in advance.

David4060 | 22. Juni 2013

@ampedrealtor, Look in to the tesla guaranteed trade in. In Colorado, I went online and received a quote from autonation, it was a bit below fair trade in value. However, the trade in value was discounted from my purchase price and which had a significant sales tax advantage on my tesla purchase (~1500). As a result, it was nearly as good as a private sale price. Also, I drove my trade in until the s was ready, and left it at the tesla service center when I drove off in the model s - a very nice feature that saved my family an extra drive. The offset of the sales tax may be true only in certain states.

Mark K | 22. Juni 2013

The shock of the change from MB interiors melts away after you bond with it.

Tesla wanted a unique identity, and they achieved it. It is nice in its own, fresh way.

Style wise, the flow of the lines on the dash is a bit patchy and busy for my taste, but I can make that criticism of many MB's I've had.

There are definitely functional nits you can pick - like the paucity of storage and spartan door detailing. But given how rich the whole package of advances in user experience is, the car is nonetheless quite compelling.

The rear headrest design choices are actually superior to what MB has long practiced, and far simpler to build and maintain. Tesla shed convention here to good effect.

carlk | 22. Juni 2013

@dokyjun Current Porsche and past MB owner and I don't agree. You may not like the minimalist design of MS if you want the "look at what I have" busy design of MB but it's really in the eye of the beholder. Nothing in MS doesn't say it's a well made high end car.

@tobi_ger I heard that before so I went to Tesla store particularly to try the seat. It feels very comfortable and supportive. I think it should be fine for me. My current daily driver is a Porsche Cayman S with sports seat.

carlk | 22. Juni 2013

@David4060 When was that you made the purchase. Someone mentioned Tesla dropped Autonation recently. Not sure what the situation is now. Anyone knows?

tobi_ger | 22. Juni 2013

@carlk: good to know, thank you for replying!

GReese | 22. Juni 2013

I had the same concern when I did my test drive in Chicago. But my actual car feels like a luxury car.

I'm not sure if the black interior is what makes the difference, or if it is the fact that they have a prototype in the showroom and an older model (at least at the time) for test drives.

In short, while not perfect, I do think it's a nice luxury car interior.

wheatcraft | 22. Juni 2013

I love the interior; sleek, minimalist, I could go on and on. I particularly love the use of suede accents, haven't ever seen that before. I've had three Lexus's; I like the interior of my Model S much more.

therealmach3 | 22. Juni 2013

Hey, has anyone realized that there are only two cup holders in the Model S??

(sorry, I feel in a particularly sarcastic mood today)

Brian H | 22. Juni 2013

Yes, but they're only usable if you have a hand growing out of your right elbow. :P

enovak | 22. Juni 2013

Your concern about the interior design is a big reason why I am now driving a 2014 Porsche Cayman S instead of a Tesla Model S. My choice was between getting the Model S to replace my current sedan or the Cayman S to augment it as a "fun" car. I know, I'll probably get labeled a heretic by the EV/Greenie community here for even considering such a choice, but it is what it is. And after just returning from a 600 mile roundtrip to a wedding this weekend in which the Cayman S got 29.2 MPG at 75+ mph and had my wife and I smiling the whole way being hugged in the 18 way adaptive sport seats, I didn't have any post purchase regrets.

The fact is, I wanted to fall in love with the Tesla. I've had a deposit one one since February 2012 and test drove it several times in the interim. But, the suggestion that the Tesla interior is even in the same league as, say a Panamera, is letting your EV glasses get in the way of your vision. The model S seats are about as sporty and form fitting as a Toyota Camry and the entire center console area looks like it came out of a golf cart. Please, folks, I was looking at the $105k 85kw Perormance edition. The additional cost that a really nice interior would have cost is negligible; Musk just needs to acknowledge that for that money, one is more likely to cross shop it with a Panamera than a Prius or Insight.

The technology is great and both Elon and Tesla still have my respect. I hope the Model S V2.0 is an interior worthy of the technology.

HenryT2 | 22. Juni 2013

I personally don't find the interior nearly as nice as my Lexus. I'm not a minimalist kind of guy. I like my cup holders and pockets and lighted vanities, etc. Also, the back seat on the Model S is under-par in many ways.

I LOVE MY MODEL S. But the interior is my least favorite part. I'd give the Model S 10's and 9's across the board except the interior and back seat which I would rate 8 (because of the touchscreen otherwise it'd be a 5) and a 5 for the back seat.

Bighorn | 22. Juni 2013

I think you've made a huge mistake. (former Cayman S owner and Arrested Development fan)

Mark K | 22. Juni 2013

enovak - your criticism is fair. For some who are not in a hurry to ditch gas, the Model S Interior may feel too radical.

I do believe right now TM is turning away customers who would have loved the technology, but get stuck on missing interior amenities.

When my wife gives rides to her friends who drive Audis and MBs, some don't quite know what to make of the interior.

Or as someone posted a couple years ago, "the outside makes promises the inside can't keep".

Still, like I said earlier, you acclimate pretty fast and the overall experience is addictive.

carlk | 22. Juni 2013

@Bighorn +1 Current Cayman S owner and only waiting for the parking sensor to become available to click the buy button for a P85+. I think you already know although they are not the same kind of cars but performance of the MS will smoke the Cayman S and that's probably an understatement.

BTW where is the Arrested Development comment coming from? I did not see anyone mention that in any of the posts. I'm also a big AD and Netflix fan.

Bighorn | 22. Juni 2013

I was referencing GOB's tagline "I think I've made a huge mistake." I bought one of the first Cayman Ss based on all the positive press, multiple COTY awards, etc. No doubt a well-balanced car, but I grew bored with it within a year. Coming out of a V8 BMW, I'd probably hoped for some more oomph. I haven't followed the updates, but I recall it having a fairly spartan interior, as well. My P85+ is heading toward production and I have little doubt that my primal need for acceleration will be fulfilled.

AlMc | 22. Juni 2013

@bighorn: If you are getting a 85P+ the Tesla grin is definitely in your future.

3seeker | 04. Oktober 2014

Ok, I might end up insulting some of you folks especially current Model S owners so first I would like to apologize to all of you in advance!

These comments are intended to help Tesla Motors improve... even if it means for a fan, supporter and investor such as myself to vent such strong negative PURELY HONEST & EMOTIONAL opinion... Again sorry!

I'm a big fan of the Model S. However, I dislike the bare look of the interior. Sorry to the minimalistic folks out there but I'm pretty sure that most (outside of this forum) would share the opinion that the 2015 Mercedes Benz C-Class, for example, knocks the sh!t out of the Model S' interior.

For this reason alone, I'm thinking of buying a C-Class even though it goes against my values to choose EV over ICE. The much cheaper C-Class has captured my emotional side in a way that the Model S does not! Yes, I've seen the car in person and have visited the MB dealership 4x already.

2015 C-Class:

Model S:

Dear Elon & Franz,

If you're reading this you've achieved the most compelling car in the world in all aspects EXCEPT for the interior. In this area, companies like MB is kicking TM's behind. It's frustrating to avid fans like myself who want your company to succeed and dominate.

Frankly, I don't see any reason why TM can't design an interior that would knock the sh!t out of MB. I would love to see that especially in the Model 3! Thank you in advance.


A Model 3 wannabe owner who's having a sucky time waiting and $$$aving for at least another 3 years... knowing that he can get his hands on a sexy looking C-Class today.

trones.mittet | 04. Oktober 2014

i think thats what they have done.
byebye c-class for me.

sbeggs | 04. Oktober 2014


The C Class interior does look luxurious, but to my eyes it also looks fussy. I do prefer the driver and passenger seats to come equipped with aft pockets though. The Model S is not perfect, but it is wonderful!

Tstolz | 04. Oktober 2014

I looked at Mercedes as well ... c and e class - very nice cars for sure, but I find the open feel of the s refreshing. The giant center console typical of ice cars just looks in the way to me now. Also, the open layout of the entire interior of the s can't be beat ... try putting a mountain bike in a c!

EdwardG.NO2CO2 | 04. Oktober 2014

@ByeByeOil, you are an example of the impressionable mind the auto companies have targeted for years. You need to reevaluate your decision making and eliminate the industry planted prejudices. I look at the same pictures and wonder how anyone can like the ICE age look of the C-Class dash! This style will get old so quickly you will have to buy a new car couple years! At least that's their plan!

carlk | 04. Oktober 2014

I'm really surprised that some people still prefer the 20th century busy cockpit look than Tesla's 21th century spacecraft minimalist high tech interior. I can bet you my bottom dollar Mercede/Lexus' design in the next decade or so will go the Tesla way instead of Tesla ever go their way.

kinsman175 | 04. Oktober 2014


I tend to agree. Frankly to me, it's like a movement toward modernist furniture. I had to wikipedia it to be sure.

"Today industrial design is functionally motivated and follows the same principles as modern architecture: machine-like simplicity, smoothness of surface, avoidance of ornament.... It is perhaps the most fundamental contrast between the two periods of design that in 1900 the Decorative Arts possessed..."

It is a personal preference but I wouldn't avoid buying the best-made table in the world for all practical metrics because I didn't like the lines. However, I'm sure some people will.

Sometime in the future, Tesla will want to capture this market. Will they create a new trim level for them? BMW, MB, Lexus have their interior Sport / Luxury interior and exterior stylings. With enough engineering they are able to do it. To me. it sounds like of resources waste. I expect this to happen only after 5-7 years when Tesla manufactures a larger number of cars.

I mean, once everyone has a Tesla, how will you distinguish yourself? Sport & Luxury Trims!

kinsman175 | 04. Oktober 2014


It was not clear, but I agree with your sentiment that the interior is not as nice. I'm just a fan of a certain level of ornamental design. However, it is not stopping me from getting a Tesla. I refuse to spend another dime on an ICE engine, let alone $40K. That is my hard line, my friend. If you can't do a Model S today, I would recommend leasing a Leaf (which is what I currently have). It is a wonderful and affordable bridge until Model 3. It's also taught me a bit about my day to day driving needs with electric cars.

LEvans | 04. Oktober 2014

There is more to the Model S than the interior. I agree with you about the interior but you have to balance out the fact that the Model S is the only game in town if you want a high performance and long range EV. No one else is even close to delivering what you get with the Model S.

The interior is modern, the 17" LCD is brilliant, and Tesla has done a great job with the design in general but though modern, I find the interior to be more Spartan than luxurious. I can't stand the available wood trim options and I wish the interior remained modern but more luxurious but it is what it is.

At the end of the day I'd pick a Model S over a loaded S550 (whose interior I prefer) because the driving experience of the Model S is so much more superior and that's what matters the most to me.

I bet I'm not alone but I bet some people are happy with the Model S exactly the way it is. In fact I'm sure some feel the current interior is the epitome of perfection as if god himself created it :)

But I do hope sooner rather than later they make the interior more luxurious and do a better job of integrating ambient lighting in the interior. Something I always find comforting about the S class interior at night is how well they've integrated indirect ambient lighting to create a warm glow at night (and yes, I know with the current S class you can make it look like a nightclub but if you set the color to a warm amber the effect at night is elegant).

kinsman175 | 04. Oktober 2014


Agreed. Bright white LED do not make for the best ambient interior lighting. Hopefully Tesla's sourcing interior lights from more willing partners now. My fingers are crossed that we get a more amber glow before I take delivery.

I would say that from a handling perspective, Tesla has some work to go. Comparing to an S550 is a touch off. I would compare to Audi A7 or A8 for handling. They're almost there but the EV aspect seals the deal every time for me.

mbirnie51 | 04. Oktober 2014

nicksun +1: It is fabulous that you are in a BEV. The Leaf is a good automobile that has challenged the conventional autos and I hope more people get into them and discover as you did their own level of BEV driving. Once you get into a Tesla you will graduate into the next level of BEV driving...and the longer you drive the Tesla, the cheaper it is to own. You will also move up into another threshold of service from the manufacturer that no other auto maker can match, and you don't have to suffer the dealership experience. The "revolution" is incremental and patience is needed, one driver at a time.

@byebyeoil...keep the faith with you commitment to'll come to love the Tesla interior and if not that is your choice as a consumer, although you are outnumbered by other Tesla owners. For now, Tesla needs to keep economies of scale leaning toward the present design...soon your needs will be met.

wolfoeller | 04. Oktober 2014


these two pictures definitely say it all. While I might agree with the perforated leather seats on the MB,
I have to say that the layout is way too cluttered on the MB. The line of the curve over instruments being broken by the small rectangular Nav screen sticking so unceremoniously up into the space, below the round vents, then more rectangular lines with buttons etc. The doors look very cluttered as well, it is a very busy look.
Of course , beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, but having had the A8, a Mercedes, and still driving a Boxster and a Cayenne, I've been there, done that, bought the T shirt, as it were, and yes it might be an acquired taste, but I'm looking forward to the new clean lines of the S.
Eery so often when I clean out all the side pockets , back pockets , drawers of my cars, I realize that most all of that stuff I should've thrown away long time ago. So maybe I'll end up managing my stuff better now. I looked at the aftermarket console, and for a moment I thought it might be a good idea to have a storage space, but ........:)

bobrobert | 04. Oktober 2014

I caught a lady photographing my MS in a parking lot - for her brother, she said, who is an avid fan. Ok, would you like a photo of you in the car with which to torment your brother? She said yes, handed me her phone for the picture & hopped in behind the wheel. She looked overwhelmed & said she was afraid to touch anything - I took that to be approval of the interior, and with her inside I was especially inclined to agree. The lesson is that if the interior is too minimalist for you, accessorize!

As we parted I suggested she tease her brother that this is her take-home company car.

Captain_Zap | 04. Oktober 2014

@bobrobert +1

Once you get inside you really start to appreciate the lines and the color contrast of the interior colors, especially on the doors. I find it striking.

Also, having a place to stash "the bag" is an incredible leap forward for mankind. | 04. Oktober 2014

Less is more don't change you got it right.